What’s Cold, Gray, Hard, And In The Refrigerator?

No, not those leftovers back in the right-hand corner. Guess again.

I’ll give you a hint: Have you ever been to college and lived in a dorm?

No, not your roommate’s retainer.

Give up?

Well, one of the stories I’m writing takes place in a college dorm in 1968. Back in those dim, dead days, we didn’t have little refrigerators in our rooms, children; we had one common kitchenette for the whole dorm. Ah, Jane, you remember, don’t you?

When you share a refrigerator with a bunch of other people, you quickly learn that anything unsecured is anybody’s. So one of a freshman’s first purchases was a lockbox, in which to keep one’s food.

One would think that a food thief wouldn’t scruple to steal an entire lockbox, but I don’t remember that happening. One went to the store, one bought, say, a package of steak (or, as we called it for some forgotten reason, snake), one brought it home, and one locked it in the box until needed. Leftovers were also locked in the box.

Sometimes, people left school or left the dorm or went home for a long holiday and abandoned their leftovers, lockbox, and all. Those people may — I don’t say they will, mind you, but I do say they may — burn in hell.

I confess, I’ve envied various people their jobs and perqs from time to time, but one person I have never envied: Whoever had the job of cleaning the dorm fridge at the end of the semester.

And that’s enough of that.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character gets even with a food thief.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “What’s Cold, Gray, Hard, And In The Refrigerator?

  1. Sarah Reece

    September 5, 2012 at 7:54am

    That reminds me of a colleague friend from my earlier working days, who on one of those days when he was very hungry, quite conveniently took out someone else’s sandwiches from the office refrigerator and gulped them all. Very funny, he did not show up near the pantry area for the remaining part of the day. But I kept feeling sorry for the person whose food just vanished from the fridge.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 5, 2012 at 9:55am

      Oh, what a bad colleague! Shame on him! Did the person who lost his/her food ever find out who took it?

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  2. Rebekkah N.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:20am

    Lol! We had a minifridge that I bought, so our stuff stayed where it was.

    Revenge on a food thief? I’ve got just the character for that…


    Derik glared at the ice-and-goo encrusted refrigerator. Three weeks he’d been witnessing his food mysteriously disappear, piece by carefully cooked piece. And yesterday, someone stole the lid to his aluminum pot, burned something in it, and threw it in the trash. It had taken hours to scrub it clean, and he was quite sure it was just a little bit bent. Sure, it was a cheap lid–only a fool would waste a good set of kitchenware by taking it to college–but still. He could forgive the food pilfering; he was a good cook, and even if he gave extras away for free, his dormmates just weren’t always in the kitchen when he was.

    But touch his cookware?

    This was going to end. Now.

    Two pounds organic grain-fed beef, farmers’ market green onions and garlic, sea salt and three fresh tomatoes. Chop, rub, sear, throw in the oven (and he just cleaned that two days ago; how was it already crusted in black char again?!), bake to medium. Add secret ingredient, bought from the Chinese corner-store, to pan with balsamic vinegar and butter, and reduce. Set aside later.

    Eat steak with a tossed salad of arugula coated in olive oil and lemon juice and a side of steamed asparagus; trade Amanda a piece for one of the loaves of bread she always brought back from the bakery when she worked afternoon shift. Get Lucy the Skeletal Cheerleader to eat a plate by taking off shirt (because of the ‘heat,’ of course) and then making a bland statement about weirdo girls who just hang around staring instead of actually interacting. Carefully arrange leftovers in BPA-free tupperware. Add name. Add ‘gravy’ made with secret ingredient.

    Derik grinned. Yeah, this should be good.


    Armageddon started at 11:49 that night.

    Everyone knew Erin was a pothead. Derik thought even the RA knew, but since Erin didn’t keep his stash in the dorm, no one could prove anything. Still, when the kid wandered in half past ridiculous with glazed eyes and the munchies, it wasn’t hard to figure out.

    So Derik wasn’t terribly surprised that the screaming and running through the halls was coming from him.

    The two girls with him were a different story. Natalie was a Pre-Med. She didn’t even live in the dorm. And the other was Melanie, a converted Hindu and devout vegan who preached to him weekly about the sins of eating animals. But…

    He’d only put the ghost pepper-laced gravy on the steak.


    Well then.

    Laughing, Derik shut the door, and went back to bed.

    Served them right for messing with his cookware.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 5, 2012 at 12:25pm

      Ooo, I LIKE a cook with attitude! 🙂 Thanks for the super story. 😀

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  3. Helen Ginger

    September 5, 2012 at 11:38am

    I don’t remember having a fridge in my dorm room or in a community area. But I do remember my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s apartment. Sooo gross. They never cleaned it. No one would steal from them.

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  4. Jane

    September 5, 2012 at 7:21pm

    Remember the dearly desired technique of leaving food labelled with a note: I spit in this?

    And then we figured out someone else could just write right back: So did I.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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